Earlier this week at the NFL Media offices ...
Joe Bob Editor: "We need your free agency primer by Friday ... AFC and NFC."
Me: "I thought 'primer' was paint."
JBE: "We want fans to know what areas their team can fill in free agency next week."
Me: "Doing team needs for 32 teams that fast is more work than painting my bathroom."
JBE: "You're doing it."
Me: "I'm asking the Competition Committee to challenge this."
Well, clearly I'm performing this exercise ... but I still have questions for Competition Committee frontman Jeff Fisher. Like where are y'all going with instant replay? Or perhaps more germane to this article's subject matter, what are your St. Louis Rams planning to do this offseason? Yes, the Rams have many areas to address this offseason, but they're certainly not alone. This is the NFL -- every team has needs.
So, with free agency on deck, it is my mission (order?) to appease Joe Bob Editor by identifying major needs for all 32 NFL franchises -- three areas each team should consider addressing when the market officially opens at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
If you feel my analysis is off anywhere, let me know. Love a (good) debate: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Despite the up-and-down regular season, the Ravens proved they are not that far off in the postseason. To remain in AFC title contention, they must reinfuse the wide receiver position with some talent for new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Terrell Suggs is getting long in the tooth and Pernell McPhee is a free agent, thus OLB is another area to address. Justin Forsett is set to hit the market, so they either need to bring him back or look elsewhere for RB help.
The Matt Cassel deal aside, Buffalo still needs a long-term answer at quarterback. The position is listed third here, though, because the Bills are far more likely to add another quarterback in the draft than in free agency. With Jerry Hughes heading for free agency, DE is either a need or merely a re-signing priority. And how about a stud interior O-lineman for fresh acquisition LeSean McCoy to run behind?
The heat always seems to be on Cincinnati's quarterback, but how about applying some heat to the opposing signal-caller. Yes, I'm talking about acquiring some kind of pass rusher. Last month, I explored the viability of Cincy signing Greg Hardy or Jerry Hughes. Cincy will take a long look at upgrading OLB around Vontaze Burfict. In the secondary, Adam Jones is older, and so is Leon Hall. Ditto Reggie Nelson. Terence Newman is old, and a free agent. You get the point.
Had a good back-and-forth with my editor regarding the quarterback position in Cleveland. It's not listed above because I think the Browns will take a Day 2/3 flyer on a QB in the draft, using free agency to address other needs. Well, whether it's Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel or 51-year-old Bernie Kosar, the quarterback will need some players to target. Cleveland should push for Randall Cobb or Jeremy Maclin, and perhaps a mid-tier free agent like a Cecil Shorts. The Browns certainly could use a tight end, as well, with Jordan Cameron hitting free agency.
UPDATE:Green Bay didn't risk having Cobb hit the open market, reaching a four-year contract with the wideout on March 7.
Terrance Knighton has played some solid football for the Broncos over the last few seasons, and now he is a free agent. If it is indeed time to move on from "Pot Roast," then who is the filler? The draft could be used to address that need -- as well as the one at center. I like Denver to look at free-agent tight ends, with Julius Thomas likely gone.
Quarterback is a need for this team, but there might not be anyone the club wants to sign on the free-agent market ... well, other than Ryan Mallett. While he works to full recovery from a torn pectoral, Houston should be drafting someone. Interior defensive line is an area that could be filled during free agency, as is offensive tackle. With Andre Johnson's Texans tenure coming to a close, wide receiver merits attention.
The Colts must get a stronger pass rush. Otherwise, Indy can forget about challenging the Patriots in the AFC. Robert Mathis is coming back from an injured Achilles, but is also in his mid-30s. DeMarco Murray would be a great signing. Mark Ingram? Cheaper. And Friday's news that Reggie Wayne won't be re-signed isn't the best news for the receiving corps. (I always wish the great ones could pull a George Brett, and play with the same organization from stem to stern.)
In the 96-year history of the NFL, one equation has remained constant: trench dominance = wins. (Yes, even in this fantasy football era, when people only pay attention to the skill positions.) The Jaguars could use a mismatch nightmare in their pass rush, and interior defensive linemen who can contribute right away. Offensive tackle/guard should be considered in both free agency and the draft.
If you watched Chiefs football last year, then you know wide receiver is a must. This was clearly the case even before news broke about Dwayne Bowe's impending ouster. I love Travis Kelce, too, but 300 targets would seem a bit excessive. Unfortunately, with the future of Eric Berry up in the air, getting at least a stopgap safety in free agency makes sense. Everyone in the league hopes Berry can come back. Everyone.
For a team that was relatively competitive in 2014, Miami has a ton of needs. You can throw cornerback in there, as well. And running back, too. Right now, finding an adequate receiver to team with Jarvis Landry is a must. Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson were cut. Mike Wallace's future is in doubt. Could the team address the position in the first round of a loaded receiver draft? Linebacker and defensive tackle are needs on the defense.
The champs won't become chumps any time soon. Yet if you saw the way Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch ran on them in the postseason -- imagine if the Seahawks had called just one more running play ... -- you know DT is an area worth hitting in some capacity this offseason, especially with Vince Wilfork on his way out. Then there is the Devin McCourty/Darrelle Revis situation. Interesting offseason in New England.
With the Brandon Marshall acquisition, this receiving corps is starting to look pretty imposing. But who's going to deliver the football? No one truly knows what to think of Geno Smith, who ended the season with a perfect passer rating versus the Dolphins but has been mostly down in his brief, up-and-down career. New York might be able to get Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota at sixth overall, but that also might be wishful thinking. Acquiring a bridge like Brian Hoyer or making a play for Ryan Mallett is possible. CB is a major need.
Can I tell you how nice it is to not have to list quarterback here? Hurray for Derek Carr! Oakland has a truckload of cap money to spend, so outbidding teams on Randall Cobb or Jeremy Maclin is more than feasible. Even if D.J. Hayden develops, another corner is needed. The offensive and defensive lines could sure use some TLC.
The Steelers fans who tweet me (@HarrisonNFL) really want Troy Polamalu to retire. Totally understood, but him retiring before his game declines too much doesn't take away the need for a safety -- or a corner, for that matter. With Jason Worilds on the free market, Pittsburgh probably will look to replace him in the draft. Funds are tight.
I have come around on offensive line being the Chargers' primary need, but the defensive front seven still needs serious attention. Dwight Freeney is a free agent and Jarret Johnson retired, so look for GM Tom Telesco to refortify the OLB position. Meanwhile, three starters in the secondary are free agents (Brandon Flowers, Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist). Ouch. Oh, and by the way, Ryan Mathews is probably gone. Don't cry.
Talk about a team that could use a serious influx of talent. The Titans should take a long look at DE Jerry Hughes and RB Mark Ingram in free agency. And they might as well place a call to Brian Hoyer's agent, as potential Zach Mettenberger insurance. Then try like heck to trade out of the second overall pick to acquire as many draft choices as possible. That's my Titans Rx. You're welcome.